On this day, 13th of February, 1976, General Ramat Murtala Muhammed was assassinated on his way to work by some military men who were loyalists of the then Head of the Nigerian Army Physical Training Corps, Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka.
Late General Murtala Muhammed was born on the 8th of November, 1938 in Kano to Risqua Muhammed and Uwani Rahamat. He was the ninth out of 11 children and attended Barewa College in Zaria where he graduated in 1957.
Gen. Murtala joined the Nigerian Army in 1958 at about 20 years of age and went to Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in England where he was trained as an officer cadet. He was also a Federal Minister Commissioner for Communications.
General Murtala took over power as the Military Head of Nigeria on the 29th of July, 1975 when General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown while he was at the 12th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Kampala, Uganda.
Murtala was notably known for his simple lifestyle which many believed led to his death as he was without escort at the point of his assassination. He was also known to be keen on restructuring. At a point, he reduced the total number of active Nigerian soldiers by 100,000! He approved Abuja as the new Federal Capital Territory on February 5 1976 due to the overcrowding of Lagos, the then Capital. He also created seven states 10 days before his untimely death.
General Murtala Muhammed was the second Head of State to die in power and he hold the record for the second shortest reign by a Head of State/President as he spent 201 days in office.
Below is a video of one of the coup ringleaders Lt-Colonel B.S. Dimka confessing his involvement to the press.
Just a brief reminder about today’s iconic date in Nigerian history. 33 years ago, on February 13, 1976, Nigeria’s then head of state General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated on his way to work during an abortive coup led by Lt-Colonel B.S. Dimka.
Strangely, the day on which Murtala was killed was like today, also Friday the 13th. Full details of Murtala’s life and the events that led to his death will follow in my forthcoming book.
Murtala’s car was ambushed by a group of soldiers in Lagos and he was shot to death. Below is a photo of the bullet riddled car in which he was killed. Note the bullet holes in the windscreen.
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